The WAY to effective communication
As you may already know, I’m a voracious reader. I love to read and apply what I learn to my business. One of the best business books I’ve read in the last year (which says a great deal since I average reading one book every 10 days or so) is Mike Rose’s book
ROE Powers ROI - The ultimate WAY to think and communicate for ridiculous results. This book provides a framework for truly effective communication in any organization. We all have different communication styles and most people communicate in a style they are comfortable with, rather than the style that would be most effective for the listener. I had a chance to visit with Mike on our podcast this week, so I thought that this is a perfect opportunity to bring up a few of the key points of the book.
According to Mike, there are three ways that people in any organization think. Way One is the visionary thinker, Way Two is the strategic thinker, and Way Three is the subject matter experts or SME thinkers.
The Way One is the visionary or the chief vision officer. They are the ones who are thinking not just three, five, or 20 years down the road, but they also need to have a perception of everything going on around them at the same time. These are the people who define the objectives and the purpose of the organization. Frequently in businesses, the Way One is the most senior executive - the president or CEO.
The Way Twos are the strategic thinkers. They are the people who create the plans to implement the vision. They are closer to the frontline. They are the ones who may be in a division or department in the business - perhaps sales or marketing or finance or operations. These thinkers are the people you could put at the table, and if you start a “telephone game” with them on one end, it will come back around the same. They understand the purpose of the organization and their job is to implement a strategy to deliver the vision.
The Way Threes are the subject matter experts. They are on the front line because they are the people who actually do the work - implementing the plans given to them by the Way Twos.
Each of these types of thinkers communicates in different ways. Assuming that a business has the right people in the right seats is sometimes not enough. In order to drive more effective communication across the three ways, you have to think and communicate in a particular way that connects with other people. If we’re trying to communicate the big picture, we need to be able to communicate the “little picture” - meaning how the big picture relates to the people on the front line. For example, when the Way One calls a meeting to announce landing a new large client and a new growth initiative unless it’s communicated properly, the Way Three hears how much more work they will have to do.
It's a matter of understanding how you're thinking when you communicate, which is one of the biggest challenges in any business. Without understanding the perspective of the other person, communication, or the lack thereof, can also be one of the biggest stress drivers in a business. However, if we come back to purpose - why we are doing this - we can anchor communication in a way that can be much more effective. Ultimately people on the front line, those who are the subject matter experts, are the people who will be doing the work and they need to understand why they are doing what they're doing. In the example above, in addition to announcing the new growth initiative, the Way One should communicate through a Way Two filter to get the Way Threes as excited as the Way One.
Unfortunately, everybody in a business doesn’t fit neatly into one of those three ways. As Mike explains it, we all think Way One, Way Two, and Way Three, and we bounce between them in what he calls the mental triathlon. We're constantly jumping from one exercise to the next which requires a different Way of thinking. Sometimes we're strategic, and then we're visionary at 50,000 feet, but then we jump into the weeds - but at each level, we have to communicate in a Way that it will be received by the other person.
The Way Two is really the translation device between the Way One and Way Three thinkers. Way Two thinking is a real gift - they can see the big picture but also all of the little parts to implement that big picture, and then put it all together. Most importantly, they are the ones who know how to communicate with both the Way One and Way Three thinkers. They know how to take the vision of the Way One, translate it through their strategic mind, and communicate it to the SME in such a way that they understand the plan and why it’s important. Sometimes it is as simple as just telling the SME what to do.
Way Ones should not communicate with Way Threes unless it’s through a qualified Way Two thinker, or they revert to Way Two thinking and communicate the plan. For Mike, this became apparent when he was writing the book. About halfway through the year, the company won a big deal and hit their revenue goals for the year in August. He was so excited and it was a great project. Yet, when he announced the project, the response was crickets, very quiet. At first, he didn't understand that response. Then he realized that he was communicating from a Way One perspective and how good it would be for the organization, and how it was going to drive the business forward. What everybody heard was how much work it would be. The others were wondering how they were going to do the work and what they were going to do.
As Rose explained it, that was a very frustrating day, but it helped him clarify that “why” is a visionary question, “how” is a strategic question, and “what” is a doing question. Aligning ‘why, how, and what,’ the ‘vision, strategy, and tactical’ order make it easier to communicate. When the Way One announcement is met with crickets, it’s easy to think that you might just have the wrong people on the bus, but in reality, it could be the way the message was delivered.
Simply put, it's about communicating with people in a way that it will be best received by the listener.
In communication, we should not use the golden rule which says we should ‘communicate in a way that we want to be communicated with.’ Rather, we should use the “platinum rule” and ‘communicate with people how they want to be communicated with.’ In order to do that, you must understand how they are thinking, where they are, and then communicate that way.
And being able to understand that and communicate that way not only reduces stress and anxiety in the business, but truly effective communication makes people want to run through walls for you.
So, stop right now, and think about which WAY you think and how you communicate with your team. If you deliver a message and it’s met with “crickets” - perhaps you should examine your own communication style, and pick up a copy of Mike’s book.
How are you going to upgrade the communications with your team? Effective communication will have a significant impact on your business value! What are you going to do today - to Maximize Business Value?
And remember, we’re here to help. If we can help you in any way don’t hesitate to reach out!
ABOUT TOM BRONSON
Tom Bronson is the founder and President of Mastery Partners, a company that helps business owners maximize business value, design exit strategy, and transition their business on their terms. Mastery utilizes proven techniques and strategies that dramatically improve business value that was developed during Tom’s career 100 business transactions as either a business buyer or seller. As a business owner himself, he has been in your situation a hundred times, and he knows what it takes to craft the right strategy. Bronson is passionate about helping business owners and has the experience to do it. Want to chat more or think Tom can help you? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his book, Maximize Business Value, Begin with The Exit in Mind (2020).